Local Produce for the Ninety-Eight Percent

Thanks in part to City Harvest, a new Greenmarket project is getting more local produce than ever into our city’s diet.

GrowNYC is best known for running the Greenmarkets, where growers sell directly to New Yorkers, sans middleman. But as Executive Director Marcel VanOoyen recently observed, about 98 percent of everything we eat goes through wholesale channels, essential outlets for mid-sized farms that sell by the bin, not the bunch.

Now, thanks to vital funding from the Doris Duke Foundation, as well as the New World Foundation and Deutsche Bank, GrowNYC will facilitate such sales by building a Food Hub. The organization is annexing a portion of a refrigerated warehouse in Long Island City—donated by City Harvest, which operates the facility—as well as trucks to deliver the harvest direct to purchasers’ back doors and loading docks. Some of the produce will supply other GrowNYC initiatives including Youthmarkets and food box programs. Outside clients already include a diverse lineup: hardcore locavores like Great Performances and Gramercy Tavern but also new customers like supermarkets and bodegas that will be able to add spectacularly fresh produce to their shelves. And unlike traditional wholesalers, GrowNYC’s fees will only cover costs, so farmers get a better price for each peck of peaches and case of cauliflower.

Betsy Bradley

Elizabeth L. Bradley writes about New York City history and culture. She hopes to find Tiffany blue dragees in her Christmas stocking this year.

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